My Transformational Journey from a Breast Cancer Survivor Into a Thriver

In the fall of 2005, as the date of an impending elective surgery to remove my ovaries slowly neared, I acquired a severe case of hives ALL OVER my body. Not just ordinary run of the mill hives, but loud hives, flaming hives, out-of-control burning hives. My doctor followed the traditional western model for helping me by first prescribing steroid cream, which was only marginally effective. Next, she upped the ante by giving me oral steroids for eight days, which seemed to calm the symptoms. Once off the drug however, the hives returned with a vengeance, and my doctor resorted to injecting my rump with a brutally painful steroid shot that temporarily solved the problem, this time for about two weeks. Shortly thereafter, the hives reappeared, seemingly victorious against the steroidal invasion.

In the midst of this battle, feeling extremely frustrated with the vicious cycle of hives and steroids, my ears vibrated as I listened to a CD by Dr. Andrew Weil discussing skin problems. The wise Doc Weil declared that in his experience, skin problems always contain an emotional issue at the core. Thus, he recommended that his patients try to resolve their skin issues with hypnotherapy. Willing to try ANYTHING at this point, I called my doctor and shared Dr. Weil’s advice. Enthusiastically she concurred with Dr. Weil’s idea, which left me wondering why she hadn’t suggested something like this before. My doctor gave me the name of a hypnotherapist and two days later I arrived for the appointment.

A graceful (grace-full!) woman greeted me warmly and explained that she was a certified hypnotherapist, but that she had found an even more effective modality called “The Journey” . She asked if I might be interested in trying a Journey process instead of hypnotherapy. Little did I know then that my “YES” reply was not only a response to her question, “YES” was also the answer to a whole new direction in my life and more importantly to LIFE itself. “YES!!!!” my body, mind, and spirit shouted. “YES! YES! YES!”

I learned the true source of my symptoms: RAGE!! One Journey session quelled the screaming hives and by the end of the week, after two more sessions, my hives disappeared FOREVER! More significantly than that – and believe me, the significance of being hive-free cannot be understated – I learned the true source of my symptoms: RAGE!!

At the (much too young) age of 33, I received a breast cancer diagnosis and underwent a modified radical mastectomy with a TRAM flap reconstruction. Reconstruction is actually a bit of a misnomer; my entire being felt utterly violated! Yet as I coped with the difficulties that go along with cancer diagnosis and traditional medical treatment, outwardly I projected a calm and courageous veneer, while unbeknownst to me, deep in the interior of my soul, I was seething with rage. Still, my optimistic nature carried me through the rough spots and covered up my deeper emotions and after five years my oncologist declared that I was cured! (Yep, he actually used the “cure” word). On top of that fabulous news I became pregnant with my first child at the ripe (almost too old) age of 38. Life seemed to be back on track and full of blessings.

Three speedy years later at my 16th routine oncology check up, and only several days after deciding to try for one more child at age 41 (definitely pushing the envelope for conceiving, but what did I care, I simply adored being a Mom!), I again received a diagnosis of a new primary breast cancer in my other breast. This time the news shattered my world! Not only was the cancer more invasive than the first one, but more importantly I was a Mommy! I was a Mommy!!!! I felt like an enormous tornado had swept me up and just tossed me asunder. I couldn’t breathe or think or sleep. My whole world spun out of control. Though my psychological/spiritual toolbox contained many appropriate tools, I couldn’t even manage to locate it, much less open it. At the time, I had no clue that what was really transpiring in the depths of my being was an ominous, explosive rage trying to make its way into my consciousness. My extreme anxiety was a huge cover up job. I had no reference point for feeling rage much less expressing it; no women in my family or community raged (or so it appeared!). The only women that I had observed rage were labeled bitches by the world. Oh no, raging was not an option and so with all my might I kept it hidden and the energy this choice required created unbelievable fear and fatigue. My oncologist put me on an anti-depressant which abated the power of the rage and dissipated the fear. My school district gave me a year leave-of-absence and I managed to make it through three more surgeries, chemotherapy, and mothering a three-year-old.

Cancer was merely a physical process of cells running amok. It was not a personal attack after all. I understood that my experiences weren’t about good vs. evil or any other misconceptions I harbored A year later, as I faced the hive-causing ovary surgery, I realized that my body had done me a tremendous favor by bringing my buried rage to the surface. The hives raged in unison with my soul! After healing from the hives and going through several additional Journey processes with my hypnotherapist/journey practitioner, I attended my first Journey Intensive where I received two more processes, learned how and why they work, practiced how to give them, and discovered how to truly forgive. That weekend the physical Journey process I went through turned out to be the key to unlocking all that I had buried so deep inside. In that process, I sat at a campfire with Cancer. Cancer showed up as a large, pink, blobby mass covered with mouths all over. I spoke first and painfully emptied out a myriad range of emotions, thoughts, and feelings about having undergone cancer treatment twice, inheriting the BRCA 2 gene, watching cancer eat away my father’s face and then his life force, discovering how cancer had maimed my grandmother, and witnessing cancer kill two aunts, an uncle, my favorite cousin, and several friends. At the campfire, I really let Cancer have it with both barrels. I cussed, I sobbed, I stomped my feet, I raged, I grieved, I pleaded, and I moaned “why?” until finally, I was empty. Then Cancer had its turn to reply. It simply responded, “That’s what I do. I eat things. I’m an overactive cell that eats things, reproduces more cells and keeps eating things.” That was all! This response left me stunned and pierced through all the torrid emotions, leaving me in a strangely peaceful state of being. In that moment I realized that I had unwittingly given cancer a sinister personality with malevolent intentions. This realization enabled me to begin a process of unhooking from the drama I had created around cancer. Cancer was merely a physical process of cells running amok. It was not a personal attack after all. I understood that my experiences weren’t about good vs. evil or any other misconceptions I harbored, and that I had openly given my power away to an accursed phantom. After that Journey Intensive, the question of “why?” began slipping from my vocabulary, being replaced with the invitation, “Tell me more. What would you like me to learn?”

As alarming as it might sound to WILLINGLY spend time cussing, sobbing, stomping my feet, raging, grieving, pleading, and moaning, I LOVE doing Journey processes because they are enormously creative, deeply empowering, and truly transformative. The Journey has given me unbelievable gifts! I have learned how to access and express all my emotions (some that I didn’t even know I had). By opening up a wide, expansive door to my soul, The Journey has enabled me to look deeply, see, and embrace “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in all parts of myself. During Journey processes I have uncovered numerous blocks (illusions, miscon